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Best Data Science Certification Programs Online

Explore the top online certificate programs in data science, including common coursework and admission requirements. Also, learn the difference between data science certificate programs and data science master's programs.

Best Online Data Science Certificate Programs

To determine the best online certificate programs in data science, we considered a program's format, total cost, and attendance options. Below, you can explore the top online data science certificate programs.

1. Missouri University of Science and Technology

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Rolla, MO $9,440 97%

The online business analytics and data science graduate certificate program at Missouri University of Science and Technology requires that students complete a total of 4 courses. There are 2 required courses that center on big data analytics and information visualization, and then students can choose 2 elective courses in such areas as:

  • Data mining and machine learning
  • Regression analysis
  • Database marketing
  • Data warehouses
  • Supply chain and project management

Students are able to complete their 4 classes in about a year if they take 2 classes a semester. Students can also apply the credits they earn in this certificate program to the Master of Science in Information and Technology degree or the Master of Business Administration degree at Missouri University of Science and Technology. To apply to this certificate program, students must hold a bachelor's, master's, or PhD in the business, science, or technology field. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the price per credit for the online big data analytics and data science certificate program was $1,200 for all students.

2. Dakota State University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Madison, SD $9,276 95%

Dakota State University offers an online graduate certificate in information systems and business analytics that involves 12 total credits. Students are required to take the following 3 classes:

  • Data Warehousing and Data Mining
  • Predictive Analytics for Decision Making
  • Advanced Data Mining Applications

Students can then choose to take a course on information retrieval or advanced databases to complete their certificate. This university also has an online graduate healthcare data analytics certificate program that has a special focus on the healthcare field with coursework on business intelligence and visualization and predictive analysis. For the 2019-2020 year, the cost per credit for online graduate students was $465.80.

3. Truman State University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Kirksville, MO$7,749 100%

Truman State University has an online graduate certificate in data science, which consists of 15 total credits and the following 5 classes:

  • Machine Learning
  • Data Mining
  • Big Data Management
  • Introduction to Data Science
  • Capstone course

The capstone requires a group or individual data science project, a technical paper, and an online presentation. This online program features 8-week semesters and students can complete their certificate in about 40-45 weeks with 6 start dates throughout the year. Along with faculty, students are also guided by an academic success mentor that helps students with their coursework. To begin this certificate program, students must complete 2 prerequisite classes in computer science and basic statistics. All students, regardless of residency status, pay a flat rate of $6,247.50 for the entire program.

4. Austin Peay State University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Clarksville, TN$8,159 99%

Austin Peay State University's online graduate certificate in data science requires students to earn a total of 18 credits. Students take core classes in the following subject areas:

  • Database management
  • Regression analysis
  • Data mining

Students can then choose elective courses in time series analysis, SAS programming, or linear modeling among others. This online certificate program has one prerequisite coursework requirement where students must take a class on probabilistic and statistical reasoning, and students must hold a bachelor's degree in order to apply. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the total e-rate per credit for graduate students, including fees, was $808.15.

5. Marquette University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Milwaukee, WI $41,870 100%

Marquette University offers an online data science certificate program that students can complete in only 1 year when attending full-time; however, part-time attendance is also available. Students must earn 15 credits and can design their own curriculum from course options that include:

  • Advanced Data Science
  • Ethical and Social Implications of Data
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Intelligence
  • Data at Scale
  • Data Analytics
  • Parallel and Distributed Systems
  • Advanced Database Systems

To apply to this program, students must hold a bachelor's degree and complete prerequisite coursework in coding or programming and statistics-focused coursework that includes such subjects as descriptive statistics, linear model, and parametric and non-parametric analysis. For the 2019-2020 year, the price per credit for all students was $1,170.

Rank School Name Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Panola College Carthage, TX $3,264 85%
7 Cosumnes River College Sacramento, CA $1,104 72%
8 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE $7,790 87%
9 Piedmont Technical College Greenwood, SC $5,165 97%
10 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA $15,180 91%
11 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI $18,414 97%
12 Navarro College Corsicana, TX $3,960 67%
13 University of Louisville Louisville, KY $11,656 97%
14 Minneapolis Community and Technical College Minneapolis, MN $5,396 83%
15 Central Texas College Gainesville, TX $3,864 68%
16 Westmoreland County Community College Youngwood, PA $9,348 81%
17 Regis University Denver, CO $36,810 99%
18 Linfield College-Online and Continuing Education McMinnville, OR $43,302 100%
19Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College Orangeburg, SC $5,234 97%
20 Eastern Gateway Community College Steubenville, OH $ 4,240 100%
21 Trident Technical College Charleston, SC $5,033 91%
22 Wayne State University Detroit, MI $13,097 94%
23 DePaul University Chicago, IL $39,975 98%
24 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL $30,900 100%
25 Elmhurst College Elmhurst, IL $37,055 100%
26 Capitol Technology University Laurel, MD $25,540 98%
27 Lewis University Romeoville, IL $32,450 99%
28 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA $13,988 72%
29 Norwich University Northfield, VT $40,014 100%
30 Metropolitan State University Saint Paul, MN $7,879 94%
31 University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, MD $ 7,416 53%
32 Coastal Pines Technical College Waycross, GA $2,748 84%
33 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD $53,740 70%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Data Science Certificate Programs

Online data science certificate programs encompass the study of data analysis, statistical modeling, and information management. These kinds of programs help those already in the data analytics field broaden their skill set or help those who want to enter the field get the right skills and knowledge.

Generally, there are two types of online data science certificate: graduate certificates and undergraduate certificates. However, graduate certificate programs are more popular and prevalent than undergraduate certificate programs.

Online data science certificate programs typically require around 12 to 18 total credits, which means students take 4 to 6 classes in order to earn their certificate. These programs are designed to be completed quickly in about 1 year or less, depending on if students attend full- or part-time.

Additionally, online data science certificate programs can be completed 100% online with no in-person or on-campus requirements.

How to Apply to an Online Data Science Certificate Program

To apply to a graduate data science certificate program, you must hold at least a bachelor's degree. Generally, there are no requirements as to the type of college degree you need; however, some programs prefer a degree in engineering, technology, business, or a related field. Many programs require that you have an average GPA of 2.5 in your undergraduate coursework.

Undergraduate data science certificate programs only require a high diploma or its equivalent and SAT or ACT scores.

Application Materials

Typically, you must submit the following materials when applying to an online graduate data science certificate program:

  • Application and fee
  • Transcripts

Some programs recommend that you submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation; however, they are not strictly required. Generally, you don't have to submit any test scores with the exception of international students, who need to submit TOEFL scores.

Coursework Prerequisites

Most online graduate data science certificate programs require that students have completed some prerequisite coursework. Exact prerequisite coursework varies by program. Below are some common examples of coursework that must be completed in your undergraduate program or as separate courses before you begin your program:

  • Introduction to computer science
  • Basic statistics course that covers such areas as predictive models, linear models, descriptive statistics, and parametric and non-parametric analysis
  • SAS programming
  • R programming
  • Probabilistic and statistical reasoning

You won't need to take all of these courses, but it's important to check with your chosen program about their exact prerequisite requirements.

What You'll Learn in an Online Data Science Certificate Programs

Below, you can explore some of the topics that you could study in your specific online data science certificate program.

Information Visualization

This is a course that teaches students how to transform data into easy-to-digest visuals. Students are taught the theory and practice of information visualization, including how to model data through graph structures, social media clustering, and graph models that relate to web dynamics. Some courses pay special attention to the ggplot2 visualization package that uses R statistical programming language. Last, courses cover the issues related to information visualization, including errors in visuals.

Data Mining

Data mining centers on the practice and theory of how to extract knowledge and information from large data sets. Students learn about the processes of performing data mining, including statistical analysis, machine learning, classical and new algorithms, and neural networks. Students may also study how to organize data through classification, clustering techniques, and mining association rules. How data mining functions within certain business industries, such as healthcare and government, is also discussed.

Data Mining Project

A data mining project course allows students to put into action the concepts they learned in their data mining class. This class requires students to complete a research project using a range of data mining techniques; they then must interpret their results.

Time Series Analysis

This class teaches students how to analyze data sets that have been collected over a set period of time or have been collected at certain points of time. A range of different analysis techniques are covered, such as autoregressive-moving average models, time series regression models, and seasonal models. Students also typically learn about forecasting models.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is the study of how artificial intelligence systems are programmed to learn automatically and also improve their learning beyond their programming. Courses of this type cover all aspects of unsupervised and supervised machine learning, including programming languages such as Python and R. Other concepts that students study include naive Bayes classifiers, regression models, and clustering methods.

Statistical Programming

A course on statistical programming could center on a specific programming language, such as SAS, or could cover multiple programming languages, such as SAS and R programming. No matter the focus, students learn the fundamentals of programming. Along with learning how to create and read raw data files, students also dive into subjects like loops, logic, and macros.

Online Data Science Certificate Programs vs Data Science Master's Programs

If you have been taking a close look at online certificate programs in data science, then you might have also considered online Master of Science in Data Science degree programs as well. To help you decide which data science program is right for you, let's explore the key difference between certificate and master's programs.

Credits and Length

Typically, Master of Science in Data Science degrees require more credits and classes than certificate programs. Many data science master's degree programs require around 33 to 36 total credits compared to the 12 to 18 total credits certificate programs require.

As such, master's degree programs take longer to complete with most degrees able to be earned in about 18 months to 2 years.

Coursework and Concentrations

Generally, certificate and master's programs have a similar curriculum that centers on data science concepts. However, as master's programs require more credits, students are able to take more electives in various subjects that they may be interested in.

Likewise, a number of Master of Science in Data Science degree programs offer concentration areas, which is something certificate programs don't offer. Examples of concentration students can choose in a master's program include:

  • Computer science
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Bioinformatics
  • Analytics management
  • Data engineering

These concentrations give students training in one area of data science, which can then help them pursue a specialized career.

What You Can Do with a Data Science Certificate

With a certificate in data science, you will be prepared to pursue a career as a database administrator, an operations research analyst, or a computer and information systems manager.

Database Administrator

Database administrators are experts in creating and managing systems for storing data and information. Their job duties include:

  • Developing new databases based on their employer's needs
  • Monitoring databases so that they always function correctly
  • Conducting database performance tests
  • Ensuring all data is backed up and secure

Typically, database administrators need to have a bachelor's degree that includes the study of data and database systems and a background in programming and database languages, such as SQL.

Operations Research Analyst

An operations research analyst is someone who uses data and analysis methods to come up with solutions to various business issues and problems. They help their employers make sound business decisions about supply chains, pricing, and using resources. Some job duties include:

  • Collecting data sets from a range of sources
  • Completing statistical analysis and predictive modeling
  • Presenting their findings through reports and presentations

Lower-level operations research analyst jobs only require a bachelor's degree in analytics, computer science, or a related field while higher-level jobs require a master's degree. Operations research analysts must have a background in quantitative analysis, data science, and math.

Software Developer

Software developers use their skills and knowledge to create and implement computer software, applications, and systems. Their job duties include:

  • Designing software based on unique user needs
  • Working with programmers on code
  • Completing testing and maintenance on software

Generally, software developers need a bachelor's degree in software engineering or computer science.

Salary and Job Outlook Information

The below chart illustrates the salary and job outlook numbers for data science careers

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Database Administrator $ 90,070 9%
Operations Research Analyst $83,390 26%
Software Developer $105,590 21%

Salary information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018